Here's How #MeToo Is Impacting the Corporates
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The wave that #MeToo has created is phenomenal. Both men and women are sitting on the edge of their seats with baited breaths as every day a new story unravels. Women who had been holding up an ocean of terrible and terrifying secrets up till now are now responding with courage and aggression so that sexual harassment as a norm or a practice is completely eradicated.
Crystal clear harassment behind glass windows
Another important aspect of sexual harassment is the kind of struggles women have faced and continue to face in workplaces. Any kind of unnatural sexual advances perpetrated by a person on a fellow employee or someone in the lower or same level of hierarchy constitutes sexual harassment at workplace. What we need to delve into is the fact that any such disturbances at workplace disempower women beyond comprehension.
Every person has the right to work in a safe and peaceful environment irrespective of the gender. Moreover, women have different reasons for working. Workplaces are a source of livelihood for many especially the single women. When confronted with an unpleasant situation, they are faced with the dilemma of handling the situation with dignity.
Some are ready to take action while others have such circumstances that they are unable to take any stand against the accused. Shishir Gupta, CEO of StartupLanes.com highlights, “Sexual harassment is common in workplaces, sometimes male employees touch the females inappropriately, sometimes it is more than that. The females generally do not react because creating an issue may hamper their reputation and respect.”
Recently, according to reports, the government has directed all offices and organizations to set up Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) before November 30 under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act). Such committees are important to ensure that no suffering is perpetrated on women and it also ensures that women get the right doors to knock at when faced with a sexual harassment instance. The primary reason why such a step has been taken is because, despite landmark wins and judgements including the Vishakha case, women are as tied down in workplaces as they used to be.
What does it take to wake up?
Despite the growing strictness around sexual harassment, companies haven’t shown the proactive attitude required at such crucial moments.Rohan Mahajan, Founder Poshcheck.org, argues “Despite the government making POSH Compliance a statutory requirement as per POSH Act 2013, most companies have not taken it seriously and still believe in curative rather than preventive action.” Mahajan also revealed that most of the companies he has interacted with are more interested in doing enough to document the complaints rather than being actually concerned about the welfare of their female employees.
A case of compliance
Mahajan is optimistic about changes slowly making their way into the corporate world. He feels that #MeToo has definitely impacted the way organizations now approach and deal with sexual harassment complaints. The sense of alarming this feminist campaign has caused has definitely woken up offices and compelled them take agile action towards complaints. “Most companies are now getting serious as they know that the penalties and repercussions can be massive and they cannot just brush it under the carpet!” he adds.
Amit Jain, Vice President of StartupLanes Digital Business, feels that compliance to POSH law should be more than just ticking a box in a big list of things companies have to do or are made to do. He endorses that companies must have a local internal committee which helps to reinforce law and stirs faster action if there is any complaint at all. “It would help the company to retain best female talents, reduce the risk of the toxic environment and create a healthy workplace,” he further adds.
Power of POSH
According to Gupta, POSH or Prevention of Sexual Harassment law is a powerful tool that can help eradicate an unsafe environment for women at the workplace. But it all amounts to how seriously the offices take this weapon. He further emphasises that measures such as regularly educating entire staff, guiding, motivating and reminding them of the need to prevent sexual harassment, creating strong policy to act upon complaints can be applied by organizations to ensure that safe and conflict free environment is there for both men and women. He further adds that technology too can aid the management in taking appropriate steps. Installing cameras and microphone to cover all places at the workplace to document proof of truth, installing software with AI to identify such cases automatically through Computer Vision and NLP can end the practice of sexual harassment at workplace.
Jobs are places where people spend most of their time and energy. Today, every corner of the world is changing with the growing awareness that women should not be left alone to suffer in silence at home, at work or anywhere else!